What’s worse? Getting laid off from your job or being forced to take a pay cut as well as unpaid time off? This is the predicament that some employees are facing around the country as the economic crisis continues to waffle its way through the American workforce. The New York Times ran an article on this issue last week – below is an interesting piece from that article:
A growing number of employers, hoping to avoid or limit layoffs, are introducing four-day workweeks, unpaid vacations and voluntary or enforced furloughs, along with wage freezes, pension cuts and flexible work schedules. These employers are still cutting labor costs, but hanging onto the labor.
And in some cases, workers are even buying in. Witness the unusual suggestion made in early December by the chairman of the faculty senate at Brandeis University, who proposed that the school’s 300 professors and instructors give up 1 percent of their pay.
How about that, huh? You have professors willingly giving up 1% of their pay so that their colleagues at the university will not be fired. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. The article goes on to talk about how about 30% of the professors have opted into this program and it will generate some $100,000 in savings – enough to save the jobs of “several” university employees.
What is interesting here is that unlike in previous economic downturns and recessions, there are some companies that do not want to cut their existing staff because they know that cutting staff will lose talent. You have to believe that at this point in history, if companies were employing people who were inefficient at their jobs then they would have already been fired. So what’s an employer to do when they need to save money but don’t want to fire anyone?
Send their employees home.
This puts the employee in an awkward predicament. Do you stay with a job that is finding ways to literally nickel and dime you out of a few percentage points on your annual salary or do you look for greener pastures? My stance would be to do both. If your job is sending you home once a week and forcing you in to extended, unpaid furloughs, then you should use that time to find a new place to work, if possible. Look, your job is already telling you that they value you as an employee and that they don’t want to lose you by virtue of your continued employment. If, however, you feel that the reduction in pay is not going to work for your financial needs, then you may as well use the new free time to play the field a bit.